I have been growing discontent with leading my family spiritually. It is so easy to buy into the LIE that teens don’t want to engage, or that busyness is just a fact of life. I called a family meeting, and we had a deep heart-to-heart about our relationship with Jesus and how we operate as a family. I walked away so impacted by their hunger, even though it looks different now that they are older. We spent a lot of time processing, pondering, and praying about what it looks like to play in the Kingdom at their ages. One of the things we decided to do was each take a day of the week and lead family devotions. It was my turn, and I had them draw out a picture of themselves, and we passed the papers around in a circle, each adding what we saw inside of them (kindness, creativity, leadership, etc.). Then one person spoke over the person next to them who they are. It was so crazy simple yet life-giving. I feel such a renewed sense of hunger to keep going after their relationships with Jesus in a fresh new way.
As my children enter their teen years, I have been sensitive to the fact that things are changing, including my parenting and responses to them. What worked when they were five or ten doesn’t work with pre-adults, which is a good thing.
My son was in a funk for a month or so. I would describe it as he has shut down a little, has a wall, refuses counsel, and seems to be making 101 choices in the opposite direction. It was never anything significant, but many little things that added up. He was on a roll one morning, agitating everyone within reach. I was frustrated with the lack of getting through to his heart. On the way to school, I heard the Lord say to drop Ellie off and have Hudson jump in the front seat. I drove to the other side of the parking lot and had every expectation and intention of giving him a firm chat about his choices and attitude. I heard the Lord say, “Remind him of who he is,” and began to declare, “Hudson, you are my son. You are fiercely loved and profoundly cherished. You are a gentleman, kind and caring. You see others and value them. You are a powerful builder…” and on and on I went reminding him who he was.
When I ended, he said, “Is that all?” and left the car. As I drove away, I said out loud, “Well, that didn’t work, Lord.” I pulled into the parking lot of my conference when the phone rang. It was my son, and he was so distraught he couldn’t form words. I asked if he needed me to return, and he said, “YES.” I reversed it and picked him up. We sat in the parking lot (the same place we had been a moment before), and he sobbed. No words, just tears. He began to say he was sorry for all of the things he was doing that he knew deep down were wrong. We grabbed Communion at the Prayer House and took it to the Cross. It was time for him to go to school and me to my conference, but his tears would not stop. He has a compassionate heart but is not overly emotional, so I knew something deeper was going on and wanted to partner with whatever God was doing in his heart and brought him home. I went to have lunch with him, and the tears were still coming with ease. He had no words, just tears. He finally said, “Mom, I know I have been making a lot of bad choices, and I just needed to know that you believed in me again.” Gulp!
When was the last time you reminded your child of how you felt about them? They may need to hear it again TODAY.
When was the last time family members used harsh tones, unkind words, or sent messages of disapproval? When was the last time family members gathered to call out the good, honorable, and kind things in each other? In a family, we will find the flesh, but we can cultivate the spirit by intentionally creating space to speak life and declare truth over each other. Gather and answer the following questions over each person.
What am I really good at?
What do you love most about me?
How have I helped you lately?
What do I add to the family?
How do you see Jesus in me?
Make up your own!
Mis·take (noun) – an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.
We all fall short of God’s standard, so we will, at times, make mistakes, be wrong and fail. Jesus was confronted in Matthew with a question. A logical question that made sense, but Jesus first responded by telling them they had made a MISTAKE in their asking. Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” The mistake was not the question. The mistake was that they did not know the Word of God.
How much of our struggles in the world stem from simply not KNOWING and then APPLYING the Word of God? If you want children who can navigate through the days ahead with success, they need to avoid this mistake. They need to be lovers of the Word and have a deep value for its truth. In the days ahead, when you encounter issues with your child (hitting, lying, rudeness, lack of self-control, etc.), together search for what the Bible says on these topics. For older children, ask them to come up with three Scriptures on the topic. Let their understanding be shaped by what He has to say on the matter. Get in the habit of searching and looking for the answer IN HIS WORD.
For a week, commit to meeting at the end of the day and picking one topic that affected your day as a family. Search the Word for what He has to say about it.
What did you eat last night for dinner? How about lunch yesterday? When was the last time you fed your spirit by: reading the Word, praying, declaring, worshiping, encouraging others, laughing, serving others, praising God, journaling, repenting/confessing?
Just like skipping meals and going without food, our spirit becomes weak if we do not feed it often. To be as sharp, aware, alert, and aligned as God desires, we must intentionally feed our spirits daily. Don’t feel like it? That is just a sign you are already spiritually fatigued and lethargic. The way to get out of your funk is to begin eating. I say every day to the kids, “Make sure you feed your spirit!” Teach your children this concept of feeding our bodies and how it relates to feeding our spirit.
Prayerlessness becomes an invitation to the enemy. Prayer puts a layer of protection, changes outcomes, and ushers in the warrior angels to fight on our behalf.
“Jesus, I ask that You cover (insert name) with Your blood. That no man, woman, or child would be able to harm them physically, mentally, spiritually, sexually, or emotionally. Lead them to Your heart and fill them today with Your presence. In Jesus’ name.”
Moms of teen boys – this is for YOU! I have been crying out for keys with my son in this new season, and I believe the Lord was showing me some new strategies. I could not believe my ears when my friend began to share the same keys God showed her. I asked her to share in her own words. I believe this is a massive KEY for moms with teen boys.
“I am learning that my perception of connection with my fourteen-year-old son is not my son’s idea of connection. As a mom who parallels the earthly role of the Holy Spirit, I often emulate my role to that of the Holy Spirit – to teach and impart wisdom. And because I love communication and heart processes, I would frequently suggest to my Justin that we can read a book or listen to a podcast together and talk about them. On my end, I can see such meaningful fruit and growth for both of us and bring us closer at the same time. But to my son, that was not connection; I picked that up from his uninterested body language and the frustrated sigh. In fact, I think it made us more distant because I missed the mark in connecting what he desired in our relationship. One day I asked him how he feels connected in our relationship, and he shared that he loves quality time with me, like going out on a date for sweet treats. I cringe as I write this because I am a crunchy mama who loves to feed my kids healthy food. So going out for sweet treats is the last thing I would want to do with my son as a form of connection. But since understanding how my son feels connected to me, we have gone on several dessert dates, and every time his love tank gets filled, we have deeper heart-to-heart conversations. I am learning to meet my son where he is at – to talk/teach less and listen and ‘be’ with him more. Thankfully, he still enjoys snuggling with me, and often when I am on the couch, he sits next to me and puts his head on my shoulder. And we just sit there together. Sometimes we say nothing to each other, and I caress his hair and give him a quick massage. Also, learning to be a learner of things that excite my son has brought us closer. For example, he is a basketball player, so watching a basketball game with him, asking questions about the players/plays, and allowing him to ‘teach’ me and reposition our roles is so healthy as he individuates and develops into his independent self at this age. The process of adjusting to this transition has been so hard at times as I learn to let go and readjust my parenting style to meet him in his teenage development stage.”
Family devotions one day seemed like a disaster, but that ended up being the lesson. The child who was supposed to lead picked a chapter and spent the next ten minutes reading to us, but we were all getting a bit dizzy with their fast-paced reading and rushing through the passage at record speed. Then they gave their own commentary, and 20 minutes later, we were still sitting there rather detached and unengaged. They then suggested we soak for a few moments but put on dance music, making it nearly impossible to ‘be still and know.’ Family devotions felt like a bit of a flop. Until God showed up and said, “Your lesson today is the flopped lesson.” We spent the rest of the time talking about how to lead others and create space for people to engage and for Holy Spirit to come. I asked the ‘leader child’ what the heart of the passage was, and she said, “That you can’t kill Jesus.” BOOM, that was explosive. I encouraged her to make sure as a leader, she did read the entire passage to get the front and back story of the Scriptures, but that sometimes less is more, and had she started with that statement, we could have spent hours unpacking that. My whole point in inviting you into our living room is simply to share that it isn’t about getting it right or doing it correctly. Even in the flop, Jesus shows up. My kids are learning and growing, and they grew in understanding of how to be a better leader. I would say that is a success.
Family devotions were led by Hudson one morning, and I was curious to see what he would come up with. When he woke, I reminded him it was his day and asked if he was ready. His response was, “Nope,” but I could tell his wheels were spinning. He grabbed his sister’s devotions, which touched me deeply, knowing that he was ministering to four females. While seeking Jesus is unisex, I was so touched by this thoughtfulness. He talked about getting hurt by friends and how we sometimes have to stand alone but that we are never alone with Jesus. He did a great job of engaging us and asking us questions about the passage he had just read. One of the things I cherish most about my family is the way we all support each other by asking Jesus questions together. We each got to ask something as the rest of us listened to what Jesus had to say. It is so life-giving and encouraging to hear what everyone heard Him say, which is the very essence of the prophetic (hearing God for others).
Gather the family in the family room and have the children read 2 Timothy 2:1-7. The more you allow them to participate in things like reading, the more engaged they will be in the lesson. Then, on a piece of paper or whiteboard, write out the different attributes of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. What types of character or skill sets does each of them require? What makes them unique? Think about how tired the soldier must get at times, how the athlete does what it takes regardless of how they feel, or how the farmer labors hard, not knowing if the sun or rain will appear. Read verse 7 and spend some time responding. Think over these three illustrations, and may the Lord help you to understand how they apply to you.